Massa hopeful of upstaging Mercedes in Austria GP qualifying

BY foxsports • June 18, 2015

SPIELBERG, Austria (AP) Williams driver Felipe Massa has two objectives at the Austrian Grand Prix: Breaking 1,000 points, and ending Mercedes' dominance in qualifying again.

One of those ambitions promises to be easier, considering the 34-year-old Brazilian driver already tallies 997 points.

Beating Mercedes to pole position is another matter, considering that Mercedes is on the verge of clinching a calendar year of pole positions from its star drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

But the last driver to stop them was Massa, here at last year's Austrian GP.

''The track helps and we have some good upgrades,'' Massa said on Thursday. ''Mercedes is quickest this year in every race. Nobody managed to take that (pole position) last year and I was the only one.''

That made him the only driver to get pole ahead of Mercedes in 19 races last year - although he failed to match that speed in the race itself, finishing fourth.

Massa is sixth in the Formula One standings with 47 points, 10 behind his teammate Valtteri Bottas, who finished third last year at the Red Bull Ring circuit, nestled in the foothills of the Styria region.

Massa entered the season in confident mood after ending last year's championship with back-to-back podiums in Brazil and Abu Dhabi. He is still looking for his first podium, after finishing fourth in the season-opener in Australia and fifth in China, and hopes his luck will change this weekend.

He is less optimistic about beating Mercedes in the race on Sunday, saying only a ''reliability issue'' can stop one of the Silver Arrows from winning, or ''contact (like) in Spa'' last year, when Rosberg put Hamilton out of the race after nudging into the side of him as he tried to overtake.

''Maybe it's something we'll need again this year,'' said Massa.

He has raced in 218 GPs, and enjoyed the last of his 11 wins at the season-ending Brazilian GP in 2008 - the year he finished one point behind champion Hamilton in the title race.

Williams gave Mercedes a scare in Austria last year and the circuit - with its combination of long straights and high-speed corners - suits Williams well.

''It's a circuit that is very rewarding for power and drag and we know that our car is strong in these areas,'' head of vehicle performance Rob Smedley said. ''We can be confident of aiming for the front again.''

Williams is third in the constructors' championship, 76 points behind Ferrari.

''It's a circuit where we can make points on them,'' Smedley said.

share story